CBS News projects President Donald Trump as winner of North Carolina’s electoral votes

North Carolina winner to be declared next week

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV/AP) - CBS News has projected President Donald Trump as the winner of North Carolina’s electoral votes in the 2020 presidential election.

The current CBS News electoral vote estimate is Joe Biden 306 and Donald Trump 232. Biden has already been projected as the winner of the presidential election by all major news outlets.

Trump currently has 2,754,218 votes in the state while Biden has 2,680,598 votes, representing a lead of more than 70,000 votes for Trump in North Carolina.

The fight for votes in North Carolina was extended for more than a week, as outstanding ballots were being counted. Trump prematurely claimed that he won the state on election night.

Last week, the North Carolina Board of Elections officials held a press conference regarding the post-election process and said they did not have votes yet for about 117,000 people who requested absentee-by-mail ballots. That number went down to about 99,000 outstanding absentee ballots. This number shrank after officials removed all people who requested a ballot but voted early in-person.

The number of these ballots ultimately returned will be less than 99,000 because some voters cast their ballot in person on Election Day and others likely did not vote at all.

Approved ballots will be added to the unofficial results on the State Board of Elections website after the meetings.

The Election Night Results website is here: https://er.ncsbe.gov/.

Several county boards of elections continued to meet through Nov. 13 to consider additional absentee by-mail ballots that arrived at their offices through Nov. 12, provided they were postmarked on or before Election Day.

Karen Brinson Bell says NCSBE will continue to update the number of outstanding absentee ballots in a process that may take some time. The State Board will not know how many voters with outstanding absentee ballots voted on Election Day until the county boards of elections complete their regular post-election tasks during the canvass period.

County boards will complete their processes and canvass the election on Nov. 3. The State Board will meet on Nov. 24 to complete its canvass.

County boards of elections could not meet sooner to count additional ballots because state law requires them to schedule post-election absentee board meetings at least two weeks before Election Day. The meeting schedule must be published once a week for two weeks in a newspaper. The law does not permit a county board to modify the meeting schedule after the election.

If valid ballots come in from now through Nov. 12 with problems that cannot be cured, officials say the ballot will be rejected and the voter cannot submit a new ballot.

NC ELECTION UPDATE: Board of Elections officials are discussing the post-election process as Donald Trump and Joe Biden remain locked in a tight race for the presidency » https://bit.ly/3eqmgio

Posted by WBTV News on Wednesday, November 4, 2020

“Nearly 5.5 million ballots were cast and counted,” election officials said. “All eligible ballots have already left the voters' hands.”

Officials say they’re watching to see that those ballots were mailed back and were properly postmarked. According to NCSBE, over 74 percent of registered voters turned out for this election.

“We did break a record with one-stop early voting this election,” election officials said.

Dr. Eric Heberlig, a professor of political science and public administration at UNC Charlotte, spoke to WBTV about the impact that the absentee ballots can have on a political contest, specifically the race for president.

“That margin of request is larger than the margin between say Trump and Biden some of the other statewide races,” explained Heberlig.

According to data from the state board of elections, Trump currently holds a 76,701 vote lead over Biden in North Carolina. Heberlig thinks it would be tough for Biden to overtake Trump with votes obtained through the outstanding absentee ballots.

“It’s probably unlikely that there will be enough of them to change the presidential race or the senate race,” noted the professor.

He said there could be enough ballots to swing a contest with tighter margins like the race for state attorney general. Incumbent Josh Stein only leads challenger Jim O’Neill by 10,769 votes.

While other battleground states have been called for candidates prior to official results being known, North Carolina remains up in the air. Heberlig said the location where absentee ballots are being mailed from can determine when a race is called. He used the state of Michigan as an example.

“Most of ballots left are from Detroit. They’re not going to flip the election back to Trump. They’re, if anything, only going to widen Biden’s lead. Where in North Carolina, our votes, our absentee requests, are spread out more all over the state and therefore are not likely to provide a dominant outcome on behalf of one of the candidates,” elaborated the professor.

After a man in Union County claimed that he voted twice, election officials said they had a “very small” number of individuals that they’re researching to determine if they did double vote or if there was any issue with how their ballots were processed.

President Trump won South Carolina early into election night Tuesday.

Copyright 2020 WBTV. The Associated Press contributed to this article. All rights reserved.